[This is another repost from the Renaissance Fanbase group over at Yahoo. The address is here:
While it may seem that I am focusing only on Renaissance, there will be some other posts on other bands in this genre soon enough. In the meantime, enjoy!!]
For a while, many of us in this Yahoo group and in other places had been wishing, hoping, maybe even making sacrifices on altars with the wish that there would be a video available of Renaissance in performance. Yes, in addition to the appearances on The Midnight Special, Don Kirschner's Rock Concert, Mike Douglas and others there was a strong rumour that other live performances were recoreded and were floating around. As such when this one became available, I placed myself on the list to receive it and when this arrived, I told my cats they were in for a treat. After all, they have heard their mom rave about these folks for years...and at the time the only video concert I had available for us to view [limited funds at the time and other issues] was the Moody Blues at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra [not a bad show in itself and I am a hardcore fan of theirs as well]. So the first few airings of it on the PC's VCD player were nice....and a couple weeks back, I decided to look at it again.
If one were to skip the obligatory introduction by the hostess for the USA Network, this one opens with a rocking version of 'Northern Lights'. The beauty of this being shot in a smaller venue [the Park West] is that one not only sees Annie's emotional delivery but also see a clinic on how Jon is able to rip into the Great White with an ease that seems to be beyond regular human skill [Think of how Dwight Gooden's fastball used to be described and you will get the idea]. Granted this gets one hooked and ready for the rest of the disc.
'Flight' from Time-Line is up next and while not a bad song in concert [see a previous review of the 'Time-Line' concerts], it almost seemed as though the band was going through the motions on this evening. Mick Taylor, who along with Gavin Harrison were the new kids playing keyboards and drums respectively looked as though they were in the process of still becoming a part of the band and the solo he does on this song seemed a little reserved. Almost to the point of it being mechanical, vis a vis attacking it.
Interpsersed between the concert pieces are interviews with Jon, Annie and if I remember right, Gavin. When one listens to Jon, you do get a little bit of an insight into how and why the change in musical direction occured. This is a little different than the usual 'we have a good band, a good album a good tour' interview [think of how comics would parody how a baseball manager would speak about his team and their outlook for the season and one can see Ren did not follow this pattern]. Annie's portion shows she is still captivating, even when not singing and is quietly matter-of-fact with regard to how she got involved with the band all those years ago.
While the number of songs on the disc is short, 'Running Hard' being the last stand alone...it is the medley, or as Jon called it 'The Renaissance Collection' is where this all comes together. While this is a tad restrained from what was heard at some of the east coast venues, this still shows that fire that one comes to expect when the band just lets loose. Mickey shows that even though he is not known for being a tiger on the Strat, he can rip into it in his own way and then there is Jon. Again the master of the bass being played as lead, shows with lightening fast movements how he is able to take the bassline from 'Touching Once' and make that a solo to remember. This combined with Mick's counter-solo on keyboards and Annies soaring voice [I will say it here: there are very few then and even now who can match Annie when she is on her game. Period] and that is a great ending to the main portion of the concert.
What puzzled me and still does is why the encore was cut short in this production. As in: no 'America', no 'Prologue' and a truncated 'Ashes Are Burning' which does not include Jon's solo. Yes, we do get the final portion and the crowd gets into it, led by Annie. They took their cue from her and she could have carried this for several hours if need be.
The program does end with a taste of the opening song on the tour 'Can You Hear Me' which would have been nice to see in its full version. One has to hope that maybe at some point, someone will have the complete show from the Park West and distribute this with the interviews. Until then, with the further viewing from these eyes, it is not a bad way to introduce others to the band and for the hardcore fan to savor a 60 minute view of what was and is one of the masters of the form.